Lazio’s money scandal

Three parties that make up the opposition in Lazio’s regional government have resigned in protest about what could be a million-euro scandal involving expense accounts, short-term employment contracts and extensive use of regional funds to pay for festivities, journeys and political favours by a faction of the governing Popolo della Libertà (PdL).

The opposition Partito Democratico (PD), IdV (Italia dei Valori) and Sinistra Ecologia Libertà (Sel) have resigned in an attempt to force out the governor of the region, Renata Polverini. So far Polverini has been indecisive about what to do, but in an unusual move went to see Italy’s prime minister, Mario Monti, over the weekend. Lazio has an important part to play not only in the Italian economy but also because Rome is situated in the region.

So far magistrates are investigating the movement of about €800,000 by the head of the PdL, Franco Fiorito, ex-head of the governing PdL group, once mayor of the south Lazio town of Anagni and known to his friends as “Er Batman”.  Fiorito, who denies all wrong doing, has already said that he will give back about €400,000.

The scandal has come to light because of evidence unearthed by another member of the PdL in the regional governing party, Francesco Battistoni, in what appears to be an inter-PdL feud. Battistoni took over the position from Fiortio as head of the party group in July.

Fiorito is defending himself hotly because he says that all expenses were approved in recent regional budgets.